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ThriveMommas!  I am SO excited to introduce you to another inspirational Momma, Kelly Schott, founder and CEO Momma of The Oil Dispensary.  The Oil Dispensary was born of Kelly’s own journey to create a toxic free home.  With The Oil Dispensary, Kelly takes the countless hours of research and product reviews she’s done for own family and guides the well-intentioned, short-on-time momma down a path to a toxic free lifestyle.  Kelly’s coaching sessions help take all the guess work out of finding which companies are doing honest work and which products are in our families best interests.  Best part?  Kelly has designed a BUDGET FRIENDLY way to rid your house of toxins!

Kelly is a self-proclaimed “accidental mom-prenuer”.  When I first spoke with Kelly two things were clear:
  1. She is truly passionate about bettering her family’s health and does this by continually learning better ways to live a toxic free lifestyle
  2. She has a gift for empowering and educating other women to do the same… WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK!

Kelly says that one of the things she loves best about being a woman business owner is that she gets to contribute to her family’s finances, all while being there for every drop-off and pick-up, every game and birthday party, every tear and tantrum, and every bedtime story with a sweet kiss goodnight.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly recently: First, tell us about your business:

For starters, I created The Oil Dispensary as a way to educate and inspire moms to make the transition to a more natural and sustainable lifestyle in order to ditch the toxins and harsh chemicals that are effecting the growth and development of our children. My goal is to make the process of living a cleaner lifestyle to be hassle-free, budget friendly, and full of support from a community of mother’s who are demanding a better life for their children.

Also, I suggest many ways to do this and educate women on how to be a more conscious consumer, but the easiest and most convenient way to create this lifestyle is through Young Living. Those families who choose to join our Young Living community are supported through a private group where we educate, share testimonies, and teach product hacks with our essential oils.

What inspired you to create The Oil Dispensary?

I started a Young Living business because I was looking for a better way to care for my family.  At the time that I purchased my first starter kit of essential oils, I had just given birth to my second son and my husband had accepted a job that would require him to travel Monday-Thursday, leaving me home with a newborn and a 2 1/2 year old.  I felt a lot of responsibility to make all the right parenting choices.  I also had a vision for how I would raise my kids and the lifestyle we would lead, and that vision wasn’t being met by the products on the shelf of my local Target.

I’ll tell you, I knew nothing about essential oils when I got them.  In fact, I was a major skeptic and I was half expecting them not to work.  The reason I found Young Living is because a girlfriend of mine was using oils to care for her kids and the everyday life events that happen.  I was curious!  For the first six months my husband and I really put the oils to the test.  We tried to use them for any and all situations that came up in life.  With two young boys, a lot of things can come up in six months.

We used our oils for sleep, nausea, stress, skin irritations, digestion, mood, air purifying, bug bites, boo boo’s, you name it.

I was shocked! The oils worked for everything.

Here is where the accidental business came in to play.

As a mom, you know how crazy life is and the stress of caring for your entire household.  If you found a product that was natural and healthy for your kids, was versatile in solving multiple issues, was effective and had no negative side effects, and made you feel good and confident as a parent, you would scream about it from the roof tops.  Well, that’s pretty much how things started.

Remember, in the beginning I was still skeptical, but every time I used oils and had success I would share about it on social media.  That’s what we do, right?  Soon, I had friends asking what I was using and where they could get them. That’s where it started. Ever since then I have been sharing how I use essential oils and plant-based products from Young Living to care for my family and live a more natural and sustainable lifestyle.

 What are some obstacles did you encountered along the way as you started your business?

Becoming an accidental mompreneur is not easy. I didn’t go to school for this. There was a lot I needed to learn, at least that’s what I thought. The beauty of a Young Living business is that a lot of the “business” stuff is taken care of by Young Living. They grow and distill the product, they hold the inventory and take care of the shipping, and they do all the billing and commissions.

What I needed to learn was how I was going to present my business, how I would educate my audience, where I would find my audience, and how I would continue to support my paying customers.

My challenges were in my organizational skills. I was not great with following up with my customers and assumed everyone would be as curious as I was and dive into learning about essential oils.

Also, I had to get over my own limiting beliefs about my influence and my power to lead.

Further, I had to learn to brush off skeptics and realize that I wasn’t going to please everyone. It was never my intention to have to convince someone to use essential oils or plant-based products. I simply wanted to educate and help those who were, like me, looking for a better lifestyle but felt overwhelmed by the process.

Have you found any mentors along your entrepreneur journey?

There are sooooo many mentors. Within Young Living there is a culture of “we are better together” mentality. This is a foreign concept in the traditional work place. I am part of a larger team that supports my business with ideas, marketing material, product education, and business building training. Because of the structure of the comp plan, my business succeeds when I support others in being successful in theirs.

Do you have any advice to offer to working mothers?

My advice to working mothers is to do what inspires you.

It is my experience that a mother that has an outlet to learn new things, express creativity, and contribute to a community outside the family, is a mother that feels confident and empowered and is fueling her self-worth. That is a joyful state of being that will ripple throughout the family, cause we all know,

“when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

Website: www.theoildispensary.com

Phone Number: 858-335-7265

Email: kellyschott3@gmail.com

Instagram URL: www.instagram.com/theoildispensary

Liked what you saw?  Read about other inspiring mommas in our Thrive Inspire series!

ThriveInspire: Strange Bikini CEO Ali Conway

The post ThriveInspire: Kelly Schott – Founder of The Oil Dispensary appeared first on ThriveMomma.

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Parental Leave Checklist for Expecting Moms and Dads

For expecting parents, a new baby means a lot of things to prepare for from packing the hospital bag to filling the nursery.  Additionally, working parents know that preparing to take leave from the office can bring its own list of to-dos.  An out of office email message should be the least of your worries come delivery time!  No matter where you’re at in your pregnancy, there are steps you can take to plan a smooth departure so that you can focus on your little one, and not work projects.

Bestow created an easy interactive parental leave checklist you can use to plan your maternity (or paternity) leave.  It includes tasks like discussing your expected leave date and how long you’ll be out of the office and adding a new child to your health care plan.  Further, whether it’s an HR representative, your supervisor, or your team, this checklist will help everyone prepare for the time you’ll be out.  It even includes items to consider when coming back to the office like altering your work schedule and finding childcare.

You know what’s best for you and your baby.  This parental leave checklist will help you ease any stress about leaving and allow you to fully enjoy one of the best days of your life.

If you’re unsure of the family leave laws in your state, Bestow created an easy guide to who is covered and what is provided:

Looking for more parental leave resources?  Check out a few below:

Maternity Leave planning interview

What to expect on maternity leave

Momtra: Mantras for modern working moms!

The post Parental Leave Checklist for Expecting Moms and Dads appeared first on ThriveMomma.

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ThriveInspire: Strange Bikini CEO Ali Conway

I am so excited to introduce a new ThriveMomma Series — ThriveInspire — a series featuring Mom-Preneurs who are willing to give us some insight into the good, the bad and the ugly on balancing motherhood and business!

“Making women feel their best and looking their strangest, Ali Conway: killin’ the bikini game.”

The only thing more awesome than Strange Bikinis is Ali Conway, the mom behind the brand!  Ali is momma to an adorable 6 month old boy, Calvin, and the mastermind behind the handcrafted swimwear for women, Strange Bikinis.  

I wanted to interview Ali for this series for a few reasons.  For starters, I first discovered Ali and Strange Bikinis via a fundraiser she sponsored called The Big Dip.  Not only did this event seem super fun (think fancy polar bear plunge — Tahoe, rad bikinis and yoga) it also raised money for two deserving causes centered around women supporting women (LOVE THIS):  Women as Change Makers and Zawadisha.  Take a read about the event here and check out the featured story on the Strange Bikini Insta.  I immediately wanted to know who was behind creating such an event and was pleasantly surprised (although I don’t know why I surprised!) to see that it was an entrepreneur momma!

Second, after a bit of social media stalking, I realized that, not only did this momma make to die for bathing suits, she was also working to create a community of women supporting women:  “We’re all about keeping the vibes good and encouraging Strangers to embrace what makes you, You.” (Stranger = member of the Strange Bikini community — STILL LOVE). Further, Ali says:

“My main goals are to make women feel amazing in a swimsuit and to build up a community of supportive women (and men)”.

Long story short, I had to know more about Ali!

Ali started Strange Bikini, headquartered in Reno, after obtaining a degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in LA.  Having originally made swimsuits prior to fashion school, Ali embraced that passion, made a few swimsuits and Strange Bikini was born! Fueled by a strong social media following, Ali worked 2, sometimes 3, jobs to to get the Strange Bikini going, reinvesting every saved penny back into the business.  Ali actually hand made each bikini for the first 5 years at which point she had saved enough for production!

“People love Strange Bikinis because of the inclusivity and the way they look and feel on.”

Ali’s dedication to her business and her son is really inspiring.  Ali takes Calvin to the office with her and while she hopes to find a better balance between running Strange Bikinis and giving him (what she considers to be) a better day she does offer some important advice for working moms, Ali says, “know that you are showing your child leadership, dedication, perseverance, entrepreneurship, work ethic, the list goes on by choosing to work and be a mom. Some of us don’t have the luxury of a baby sitter or nanny and we have to find a way to make it work. Just know that you can do it and don’t let the guilt of doing both weigh you down”  and honestly, I just love this.

I’m so happy to support Ali!  Her mission and support of women is admirable and the example she sets for her son and other working mom-preneurs is inspiring!  In conclusion, you’ll find this postpartum body running after a toddler on the beaches of Coronado in a Strange Bikini suit all summer!

Here’s some contact info for Ali and Strange Bikinis:

www.strangebikinis.com

Phone Number: 775.499.4888

Email

Instagram

Facebook

Pinterest

The post ThriveInspire: Strange Bikini CEO Ali Conway appeared first on ThriveMomma.

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Automating Daily Life During the Work Week A guest post by Isaac and Isabel CEO, Sarah Ballard:

Before sharing the guest blog post that Sarah wrote exclusively for the ThriveMomma community, I wanted to share a little bit about her Company, Isaac and Isabel which has JUST launched.  If you’ve been a part of the Thrive community for more than about 60 seconds, you know that I am ALL about automating as much of the boring parts of life as possible (see post HERE and HERE).

For starters, Isaac and Isabel is the first company that I’ve seen that automates both shopping for children’s clothes AND clearing the closet once said clothes don’t fit anymore (which, let’s face it, happens far to quickly and about every 3 months).  Isaac & Isabel is a socially conscious children’s clothing subscription box service.  The Company eliminates the hassle of buying new clothes every three months as sizes and seasons change.  THE BEST PART –> Then it donates your outgrown clothes to families in need!  I LOVE THIS CONCEPT!  First, I’m forced to “spring clean” each quarter and second, I get to help children in need.

Check out the I&I website here.

Follow I&I on Insta here.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Not long ago, I got promoted, and the organization’s leadership held a one day seminar to congratulate the new “class” of proven managers.  When they sent the wrap up email, two-thirds of it was devoted to mindfulness and stress relief techniques.

Um…thanks for acknowledging how hard this gig is and then doing the least humanly possible thing to improve it.

Ambitious two-career households with children understand the grind of the work week.  

Long work hours, rigid child care and school schedules, and punishing commutes leave families spent when they make it home to face the unpacking, repacking, cooking, and cleaning of the evening.  There are days when a young parent can’t bear the thought of cleaning another bottle or pleading with the toddler to eat his blessed dinner in under 90 minutes.

Bedtime comes too quickly—long before the work is done and we have properly unwound—and our alarms jolt us awake to the prospect of doing it all over again a few short hours later.

And we wonder, is everyone like us this bone tired?

Do they all do something we don’t?

Why does no one talk about this?

The short answer is, yes, everyone is in the same boat, and everyone grins and bears it while they try to make it all work.  

Kinda like duct-taping the plane together while flying it.

But there ARE ways to make it less of a circus where you’re hoping not to get stomped on by the elephant, eaten by the lion, or run over by a herd of monkeys (your kids).

Quick brainstorm – what about the work day do you hate?

Here’s a combined list from my husband and I:

  • Trying to pick an outfit and then not make a sweaty or sticky mess of it wrangling the kids
  • Wrestling the kids into clothes
  • Commuting
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Grocery shopping
  • Begging my son to eat dinner
  • Repacking my infant daughter’s lunch box with her bottles

Then there’s the stuff that invariably gets pushed to the weekend, quickly making Saturday and Sunday feel like work days required to keep the house running.  This can be the weekly chores like yard work, home repairs/improvement, clothes shopping, decluttering/donating outgrown items, charitable endeavors, administrative tasks (taxes, bills, etc), and on and on…

So, rank order your list of things you just don’t want to spend your time on, and find outsourcing solutions.  Keep working down your list until your budget throws a yellow flag. Then, look at the remaining items and see if there aren’t a few things you could tackle at little or no cost.

Some things are deceptive money savers or net zeros.  Take grocery delivery. Yes, you pay roughly 10-15% more with delivery and tip.  BUT – there are FAR fewer impulse buys, and because it forces you to think through meals and what you need for the week, far less waste.  Oh, and way easier to eat healthy because the junk never makes it in the front door.

Here’s how we are handling it:
Chore Solution
House cleaning Maid – found after posting on NextDoor
Lawn maintenance Lawn service- word of mouth in neighborhood
Grocery shopping Peapod delivery
Other shopping Amazon Prime and subscriptions
Clothes shopping Subscription box for kids, 2-3 online retailers the parents stick with religiously
Commuting Audio book subscription (might as well learn something!)  

Frugal Mom Hack:  Join your local library, download the Libby app and rent audio books for MAJOR savings!

Toddler dinner Subscription to kid-centric meals – gets him excited about meals delivered by his “Super Chefs”

Try Yumble!  (Pricing as low as $5.24 a meal — BANANAS!)

Cooking dinner Subscription for the adults – Bonus – has cut dish duty down by over two-thirds

Tried a bunch — Keep coming back to HelloFresh!

Selecting outfits Laying everything out for the week on Sunday
Avoiding sticky morning messes Commute in sweats, husband in undershirt.  Hit gym first.
Donating to charity Sponsoring a child through a reputable organization like SmileTrain with an auto-give on the credit card, picking companies for your other purchases with charitable angles, scheduling quarterly Salvation Army pickups and putting reminders in your family calendar

We designed Isaac & Isabel, Inc. to support working families.  Our quarterly subscription boxes of clothing basics (newborn – 5T) keep families stocked with what they need when they need it.  Plus, we include a shipping label and encourage parents to re-pack their box with outgrown items to ship back so our partner charities can donate them to local families in need.  Customers get to keep their closets clean while giving to a great cause, supporting the environment, and never leaving the house! One purchase, set, and forget.

We wish you all the best streamlining your daily routines!

#parentinglevelup

I hope you enjoyed this guest post!  Here are the links to Isaac and Isabel’s website and social pages again:

Website here.

 Insta here.

The post Isaac and Isabel – #ParentingLevelUp appeared first on ThriveMomma.

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Welcome to Week 2 of the 28 Days of Romance Challenge!

If you missed Week 1 and need a refresher on what’s going on click here.

Connect with me on Instagram and post with the hashtag #ThriveRomance to tell me how it’s going!

Week 2

February 8:  Pour a glass of wine or crack open a beer.  Have a game night together. Card game! Board game!  Anything! Have any sexy games? Use one of those! You can take this a step further and organize a game night with a fellow couple friend.  Having couple friends that you both connect with is great for a relationship! I’ve always found that double dates are fun and light heartened and have an added benefit of letting me connect socially with another woman that is in a similar life space as I am.

February 9:  Bring your spouse their favorite dessert.  Enjoy it together after the kids are bed. Spend some time talking or even just watching your favorite TV show together.  

February 10:  Kiss each other… like really kiss each other.  Imagine your first kiss together. The butterflies the excitement and REALLY kiss each other.  That’s all. Nothing more.

February 11:  Take the 5 Love Languages quiz here and discuss your results with your partner.  

February 12:  Sit and talk to your partner.  Use these prompts or come up with your own!

  1. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
  2. What are some of the little things I do that kind of drive you nuts but also that you secretly like about me?
  3. What do you remember thinking to yourself the first time you saw me?

February 13:  Send your spouse a text in the middle of the work day that says hello and tells them one thing you like about them.

February 14:   Deliver the love letter you wrote on February 7 to your significant other.  Execute the plans that you discussed together on February 2 if you are celebrating Valentine’s Day together.  

Enjoy connecting with your partner this week!  See below for links to weeks 3-4.

Week 3

Week 4

The post 28 Days of Romance Challenge – Week 2 appeared first on ThriveMomma.

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Welcome to Week 4 of the 28 Days of Romance Challenge!

If you missed the previous weeks and need a refresher on what’s going on:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Connect with me on Instagram and post with the hashtag #ThriveRomance to tell me how it’s going! Week 4

February 22:  Find a comedy special on Netflix and watch it together.  Laughing together is super important. For an added bonus, share a dessert together while you watch it.  

February 23:  Execute your date night plan!  (See February 4 for instructions)

February 24:  Play a game of Straight Face.

  • You need: Small pieces of paper or index cards, a pen, two bowls
  • How to play: Start by writing down phrases that you know will get your partner’s attention. They can be silly, flirty, provocative — the sky is the limit. Take turns reading the other person’s phrases out loud. If they so much as crack a smile, you get to remove something he’s wearing, and vice versa.

February 25:  Schedule your next two date nights for sometime in the month of March AND April!

February 26:  Sit and talk to your partner.  Use these prompts or come up with your own!

  1. Is there anything you’ve been longing for that might spice up our love life?
  2. Are there areas of our relationship that have felt especially challenging lately but that you really feel hopeful about, too?
  3. What do you think will help keep our relationship and connection to each strong?  (takes notes!)

February 27:  Find a “how to dance” video on YouTube and follow the instructions as a couple.  For example:

  1. Learn to Dance Salsa:  Basic Steps for Beginners
  2. How to do the 2-step
  3. How to Dance to Hip-Hop Music

February 28:  Congratulations!  You did it! You spent time on your relationship for 28 days!  Your final challenge: Revisit the conversation you had on February 26, specifically prompt #3 (Reminder:  What do you think will help keep our relationship and connection to each strong?). Agree on one thing that you can implement going forward.  Write this item down and hold each other accountable!

The post 28 Days of Romance Challenge – Week 4 appeared first on ThriveMomma.

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Welcome to Week 3 of the 28 Days of Romance Challenge!

If you missed weeks 1 and 2 and need a refresher on what’s going on click here for Week 1 and here for Week 2!

Connect with me on Instagram and post with the hashtag #ThriveRomance to tell me how it’s going!

Week 3

February 15:  Listen to your wedding song together after the kids are in bed.  Want to take it a step further?   Dance to your wedding song together!  If you have a wedding video, consider watching it!

February 16:  Carve out a bit of time before bed sans cell phone, book or TV and cuddle for a few minutes.  If it leads to something else (cue blushing), great. If not, that’s ok. Physical intimacy of any kind is critical to a relationship.

February 17:  Surprise your partner with something — literally anything!  For example, cook their favorite meal, print and frame a photo or sneak a love note into their work bag. The goal here is just something small to make your partner feel appreciated.

February 18:  On February 11, you took the Love Languages quiz.  Today, show your partner you love them in their love language.

February 19:  Sit and talk to your partner.  Use these prompts or come up with your own!

  1. What are three of your happiest memories of our early days together?
  2. What was your favorite date that we ever had? What made it so special for you?
  3. What are three strengths you see between us that we possess as a team?

February 20:  Take a good picture together.  You can go all out and hire a professional or simply ask a friend to take a picture of you.  Either way, put some effort into your appearance, find a pretty location and take a picture of just the two of you.  

February 21:  Make a bucket list together.  Add at least 5 things you’d like to do together or even as a family.  Add at least 5 romantic things you’d like to do together as a couple.

Enjoy connecting with your partner this week!  See below for the link to the final week of our challenge!

Week 4

The post 28 Days of Romance Challenge – Week 3 appeared first on ThriveMomma.

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Remember when you were childless?  Ok, that didn’t come out right. Let me start over; I love my son and motherhood is, without a doubt, the best thing that ever happened to me.  I didn’t know what life was until my son entered this world and I mean that with every ounce of earnestness. What I meant to say was, remember when you were childless in the context of your relationship with your significant other.  In particular, think about how often you went on dates, did something romantic or had a deep conversation with them?  

Now, if you can sincerely tell me that those types of activities occur just as frequently NOW as they did pre-kids, PLEASE PLEASE contact me and tell me your secret.  Heck, you’re doing something VERY unique. Capitalize on it! Write a book! Make a vlog! Teach me! The truth is, having children can be super tough on a relationship especially in this day and age.  We (men and women) are working harder than ever. In 1960 20% of mothers worked. Now, about 70% of families have dual working parents. Further, and true for both men and women, most of us work more than 40 hours per week (1).  Additionally, we are parenting harder than ever.  This article from the NYT’s says it all in the title alone:  The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting.

In other words, we have a TON of pull on our attention and it’s so easy to overlook how necessary it is to prioritize our relationship with our significant other.  

After time, this leads to feeling disconnected from the most important person in your life, to the person you chose to partner with for life. Further, there will come a time when your children are adults and you find yourself alone in a big house with that person you chose all those years ago.  Hopefully, this person is not a stranger.

As a result, I  have created a super fun 28 day romance challenge.  

The challenge will formally start on February 1 (but feel free to start it anytime).  Each day, you and your partner will be challenged with a quick task that is designed to help you reconnect and eventually re-prioritize your relationship altogether.  

I hope you enjoy this challenge!  ThriveDaddy and I will be participating right alongside you (Full Disclosure:  We are due to have a baby this month so we’re going to participate alongside you as much as humanly possible)!

Connect with me on Instagram and post with the hashtag #ThriveRomance to tell me how it’s going!

Week 1

February 1:  First, print a picture of the two of you pre-children that you love and that brings you immediate joy when you see it.  Next, tape this picture somewhere where it will be visible first thing in the morning.  My recommendation is a bathroom mirror.  The hope is that, for the rest of the challenge, this will serve as a daily reminder of the person you chose to partner with.  Don’t have access to a printer? Change your phone background to the picture you had in mind. It will serve the same purpose.

February 2:  Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday this year (not great for working parents).  Discuss your plans together. If you want to celebrate on February 14, make arrangements for a babysitter and make reservations (like yesterday).  If you aren’t going to celebrate on February 14 (or at all), at least you are both on the same page and have now avoided any disappointment or hurt feelings.

February 3:  Stepping off the PG train right now.  Schedule some intimate time together (Don’t worry, I’m blushing too).  I know — scheduling sex is inherently NOT sexy but physical intimacy in a relationship is really easy to overlook and SUPER important to the overall health of a relationship.  Your goal is to schedule one sexy time a week for the remainder of the challenge. If this is too easy, pick a number and stretch to that.  Hopefully some of these challenges will lead to some sexy time naturally!  This is a safety net just in case!

February 4:  Your task on February 23rd is to go on a proper date night.  This date is totally flexible but it’s the last Saturday in our challenge.  Get your ducks in a row today! One of you line up a sitter. One of you make dinner reservations, book movie tickets, figure out plans!  Make this date day/night whatever you want it to be! The only requirement is that you spend at least 2 kid free hours together! Talk about what you’d like to do and get excited!

February 5:  Sit and talk to your partner.  Use these prompts or come up with your own!

  1. What would constitute a perfect day for you?
  2. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
  3. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items

February 6:  Send a sexy text message to your spouse in the middle of the day today.  (OMG blushing again). It can be as racy and descriptive as you’re comfortable with!

February 7:  Write your spouse a love letter (handwrite it!).  It’s OK if you aren’t Shakespeare. Just write from the heart.  Writer’s block? This link includes 42 Love Letter Prompts you can use.  You’re going to deliver this letter to your spouse on Valentine’s Day so you have a week to perfect it!

Enjoy connecting with your partner this week!  See below for links to weeks 2-4.

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

The post 28 Days of Romance Challenge – Week 1 appeared first on ThriveMomma.

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Smart Goal Setting Goals vs resolutions

It’s that time of year.  The time of year where we reflect on the year that has passed —

  • What went wrong vs what went right?  
  • Did we do certain things really well?
  • What did we accomplish?
  • What can we improve on and what do we want to accomplish?  

Although, I would argue, that focusing on the positive questions is just as meaningful and important, it’s really the last two questions that fill our thoughts as we head into the New Year.  As a result, these drive what we refer to as our New Year’s Resolutions but is a resolution really what we need?  I am arguing that we do not.  Rather, what we need are New Year’s Goals and there is a major difference between a resolution and a goal.  

So let’s explore those differences:

Definitions

First, let’s explore the difference between the two words (which are often (and inappropriately) used interchangeably).  To start, from a purely academic perspective, here are the definitions of “resolution” and “goal”:

res·o·lu·tion

/ˌrezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/

noun

  • a firm decision to do or not to do something

goal

/ɡōl/

noun

  • the end toward which effort is directed

Clarify please:

  • Resolution:  I have made a firm decision to prioritize my relationship with my significant other
  • Goal:  In 2019, I will direct more effort into prioritizing my relationship with my significant other.  I will do this by committing to spending at least 2 (kid-free) hours together out of the house twice a month.

Clear difference between the two right?  You can DECIDE to do something until you are blue in the face but that doesn’t mean much.  In fact, you can even be really FIRM about it and still get nowhere.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally fine setting a resolution; in fact, the “firm decision” to change something is a necessary first step.  My problem with setting a resolution is that there is nothing actionable behind it.  Consequently, without the follow on step of turning this resolve into a goal, it’s meaningless and destined for failure; this is backed in morose statistics regarding the unsuccessful nature of resolutions.  I’ve heard various stats on how often resolutions are successful ranging from 8% to 20%.  At any rate, nothing that I’ve read has indicated that resolutions are ever wildly successful.

The Takeaway

The goal of this post is not to demoralize or to discourage you from making meaningful changes in your life as we enter the new year.  Contrarily, I’m actually big fan of self-improvement.  The takeaway is that, whatever name you want to give it, our New Year’s Decisions need to be accompanied by an actionable path for which we can direct our effort.  

Smart Goal Setting

Feeling motivated yet?  Yea, me either. Let’s change that.  Let’s talk about how to best set goals and the related action plan:

  1. Write it down
  2. Re-write it
  3. Foreshadow road blocks
  4. Develop contingency plans for your identified roadblocks
  5. Make an action plan
  6. Make it visible
1.  Write it down:  

First, write it down!  Don’t overthink the format.  Just write down whatever comes to mind.  

2.  Re-write it:  

Second, write it again!  Already?  That’s right, already.  Using the S.M.A.R.T. format of goal writing, re-write your goal.  

Anyone that has ever spent a minute in the corporate world has heard about this method of goal setting.  Although it’s not new it is effective which is why it’s used over and over and over. S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

Specific

Measurable

Actionable

Realistic

Time-baed

Smart Goal Setting – Specific:

To begin, the more specific you can be the better.  For example, turn “I will prioritize my relationship with my significant other” into “In 2019, I will direct more effort into prioritizing my relationship with my significant other.  I will do this by committing to spending at least 2 (kid-free) hours together out of the house twice a month.”

If you find yourself unable to define your goal in a specific way, ask yourself some key questions:

  • What exactly do I want to achieve?
  • Why do I want to achieve this goal?
  • How am I going to achieve this goal?
Smart Goal Setting – Measurable

Second, break your goal down into measurable components.  Doing so is key because creating a measurable goal allows you to get specific feedback on how you are progressing toward the ultimate goal.  

Smart Goal Setting – Actionable:

Third, set a detailed plan that will guide you to attain your goal.  I like to make quarterly actionable plans. Though my eye is always on the end goal, I haven’t found success planning actions too far in the future.  Things change and you need a little bit of flexibility and reassessment along the way.

Smart Goal Setting – Realistic

Next, be realistic.  This is where I struggle the most.  Specifically, I have a SLEW of things that sound great or that I’d love to take on and I am not always great at considering my limitations.  Spare me the motivational quote about the sky’s the limit and what not because it just isn’t true.  In other words, be honest with yourself here.  Be honest about your priorities and really consider what is on your plate.

To illustrate, currently, my primary limitation is time.  I have a demanding career and a spouse who also has a demanding career.  Further, I have a toddler and a baby on the way (so this time limitation thing isn’t going away anytime soon).  Being a good employee, wife and mother are my top priorities and it doesn’t leave a lot of time for goals outside of those categories.  These three categories are my non-negotiables. The priorities that I put above all else.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I NEVER set goals outside of these categories.  

Rather, it means that I take very seriously the opportunity cost of setting goals outside of these categories.  

It means that I consider the loss of potential gain in my career or my marriage by choosing to dedicate time elsewhere.  

In summary, the limitations on my time have a massive impact on the goals that I set for myself.  Consider also monetary limitations and physical limitations.  To illustrate further, I’ve alway wanted to learn to cook.  Like properly learn to cook not 1-hour class at Sur la Table learn to cook. In order to do this, I would need to enroll in a cooking class and, therefore, clear my schedule one night a week to attend it.  Now, this might not seem like a big deal but, in the context of my competing priorities, it would have massive repercussions. It means that I’d be out one night a week to catch up on work, to help with dinner/bath/bed and to reconnect with my spouse.  

The opportunity cost of taking a cooking class one night a week means that I would have to forgo other activities that either bring me great joy or, and more importantly, are necessary to bring me closer to other goals and priorities that I’ve deemed my “non-negotiables”.  

Smart Goal Setting – Time-based

Finally, connecting your goal to a specific time frame creates a sense of urgency.  Procrastination be gone!

3.  Foreshadow road blocks:  

Third, foreshadow road blocks.  I know; this seems very negative Nancy but it’s really meant to be a realistic Rachael.  If you’re thinking “I’ve written my goals! I’ve re-written my goals and boy oh boy are they SMART.  This will be executed flawlessly” then you’re just setting yourself up for failure.

Write down as many things that you can think of that would throw you off your action plan.  Write down at least three but if you can think of more keep going!

4.  Develop contingency plans for your identified roadblocks:

Fourth, develop a contingency plan for your identified roadblocks.  Ok; you’ve considered what could go wrong.  Now, consider how you can right size your plan if you are actually faced with those roadblocks.

Let’s take prioritizing my relationship with my spouse goal as an example of how to consider #3 and #4:  

My actionable plan is to spend 2 hours, kid free and out of the house twice a month with my husband.

Roadblock:  When our new baby comes in February, it will be very difficult to be away for a two hour block (#NursingMomProblems)  

Contingency plan:  Until we can get away for longer stretches, we will go for an outing (coffee, walk, etc.) with the new baby.  Yes, I know this is breaking the rule a little bit as the action plan said “kid free” but I’ve decided that my husband and I can still attempt to have meaningful conversation and connect with a new baby present (ThriveToddler will NOT be invited as there is NO meaningful conversation that happens when he is around).  We both agreed that, while not perfect, this contingency plan would keep the ultimate goal in site.

Roadblock:  Can’t find a sitter or sitter cancels

Contingency plan:  We have four Date Night In boxes in the closet.  We will turn our frowns upside down and use those instead!

No matter how meticulous a project is planned something will go awry.  That’s just life. The goal of #3 and #4 is to be prepared for as much as possible and eliminate any excuses along the way so as to not completely derail your action plan.

5.  Make an action plan:  

Fifth, make an action plan.  Revisit the “S” and “A” in S.M.A.R.T.  Really lay out the specifics of how you are going to achieve your goal and create a detailed action plan.  Like I said, I like to lay out my action plans quarterly and get more granular from there. I can more or less tell you what I have going on in the upcoming three month block.  This allows me to better foreshadow specific roadblocks. For example, my goal might be to work out three days a week. If I have a business trip next month, I know I won’t be able to make it to spin class.  I can do a quick Google search for 3 hotel gym workouts now and eliminate any excuse of not working out while I am away.

Ultimately, how to develop this action plan is up to you.  I find myself a bit overwhelmed if I try to create a longer action plan than quarterly.  As a result, my head starts spinning, I can’t focus and I don’t create a detailed enough action plan.  I also have found that monthly is too short of a time frame. It’s just too much to ask to dedicate 12 “goal setting” sessions a year.  I’d rather put this time into actually achieving the goal rather than planning to achieve the goal.

6.  Make it visible:  

Finally, make it visible!  Now, you have a lot of flexibility in how you execute this step.  “Make it visible” can mean writing your goal down somewhere that only you will see every day.  It can also mean making a vision board (personal favorite) and hanging it somewhere that your entire family can see.  Further, you can make this as detailed as you want.  You can include your quarterly action plan or just keep it a few sentences.  The point here is to remind yourself of your goal every. single. day.

I’ve actually made a printable that you can use to go through all of these steps.  You can visit with your completed printable daily as well!

Further motivation:
  1. Setting Goals Worksheet:  A Free Printable
  2. What is Effective Goal Setting
  3. Mini-Milestones in Goal Setting
  4. A Collection of Ted Talks:  Ideas about Goal-setting
  5. 10 Best Mantras for Working Moms

The post 6 Goal Setting Essentials appeared first on ThriveMomma.

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